It amazes me how full of foul balls society is. On the one hand, it incessantly declares to working mothers how noble it would be if we decided to quit so we could stay at home and raise our children. On the other hand, it devalues the stay at home mother at every possible turn, barraging us with negative messages about our decision not to help financially support our family, not to be productive members of society, not to be significant in the world. Yes folks, like bats whacking the seams off of baseballs during the last inning of game seven of the world series, they smack us in the head for our most personal and innerly-conflictive choices. Just like in baseball, all of the spectators have their opinion of how the game should be played or who throws the meanest curve ball and they are not afraid to let those opinions be known.
Mothers feel the sting of society’s admonishment like baseball players in a losing game hear the echoes of boos throughout the field. The crux of the situation is that when we finally make the move over to the other side, the berating doesn’t end…the player gets traded to the good team which then, ironically, enters a losing streak, soliciting louder, more relentless boos. It isn’t so much that bad luck keeps placing us on the socially condemned side of motherhood at precisely the wrong moment in the pendulum swing as it is – – and this is so disappointing – – that both sides are constantly bombarded with negativity and we tend only to hear the criticism aimed at the side we are presently on. In this way, we can’t win no matter what we do. Obviously, neither can the other side. There’s a name for that, isn’t there?… What is that word again?…. Oh yeah, war. 😦
And here is the most profound truth of all: It’s self-inflicted, all of it. Because though there are many haters to be found in the stands during any given baseball game, oftentimes it is the players who pose the biggest threat to the game as well as to themselves. Bad sportsmanship and in-fighting on the field, self-destructive behavior and inside betting off the field and you’ve got yourself one volatile and potentially explosive environment. And, you see, so it is with motherhood. Inappropriately competitive behavior and jealousy on the field, impossible comparisons with others and unrealistic expectations of self off the field and mothers quickly become each others’ as well as our own worst enemies. The baseball season, though, eventually comes to an end. The players regroup and train hard for the upcoming season. They renegotiate contracts, rest injuries, and hold their breath in anticipation of the next Star-Spangled Banner. Mothers don’t get to regroup, receive no special training in advance of the changing seasons of their children’s lives, can’t freely negotiate the financial contracts we’ve been dealt, or rest our injuries… though during the Star-Spangled Banner we, too, are often left holding our breath in anticipation and with a prayer until the high note is successfully hit and the song has ended. After all, that’s someone’s kid up their singing. And moms, no matter which team they are on, are all about the kids.
In the end, moms, we are society. We are the admonishers, the head-smackers, the ones saying boo, the haters. Sure, others may have started this fire, pitting us against one another, but we do have a knack for keeping that flame burning – and it’s hot! In wanting, needing really, to do this beautiful job so perfectly and then to assert to the world that we have done so AND that we have done so, by golly, better than them… well, we essentially create a “them”. But, get this straight, we are an “us”. The best, most powerful “us” that ever was. Remember this. Share it often. That’s how important it is.
Keep your eyes on the ball. Divided we fall. It is, as was planned, that united we stand.
See you soon with a bowlful of wise and a bottle of fine rhyme. 😉